WASHINGTON — Higher oil prices, adverse weather conditions and Asia’s strong demand for food imports contributed to an increase in global food prices, according to the World Bank in its “Food Price Watch” report issued April 25. After four months of consecutive price declines, the World Bank’s Food Price Index increased by 8% from December 2011 to March 2012.
The index was 1% below a year ago and 6% below the historic peak set in February 2011.
“After four months of consecutive price declines, food prices are on the rise again threatening the food security of millions of people,” said Otaviano Canuto, World Bank vice-president for poverty reduction and economic management. “Putting food first must remain a priority for the international community and in our work in developing countries.”
The average price of grains rose 4% during the December 2011-March 2012 period, including a 6% increase in the price of wheat, a 9% increase in the price of maize, a 7% gain in the price of soybean oil and a 6% drop in the price of rice. For the period spanning February 2011 to March 2012, the price of wheat was down 18%, while the price of soybean oil and maize decreased 6% and 4%, respectively. The price of rice increased 5% during the period.
The World Bank said production outlooks remain strong for 2012-13, and a number of factors have kept pressures on prices at bay.